Itchy and scratchy

You don’t need us to tell you that an episode of itchy and scratchy can be extremely frustrating for your pet. If the cycle of itch, scratch, rub and lick it continues, it can leave your pet feeling uncomfortable, frustrated and downright miserable. Not to mention the need for ongoing veterinary visits and medication!

A common ‘itchy skin’ condition we see in dogs is atopic dermatitis.
This inflammatory disease is caused by a reaction to allergens in the environment, similar to the common triggers of asthma and hayfever in humans. It is particularly troublesome in Spring and Summer but can occur all year round.

Allergens that can cause a problem include: 
  • Grasses
  • Trees
  • Plant pollen
  • Dust mites
  • Insects
  • Moulds

The signs associated with atopic dermatitis generally consist of itching, scratching, rubbing, biting, and licking. They usually appear in dogs between the ages of 1 and 6 years old.

Common sites your dog may be itchy:
  • Ears (recurrent ear infections are common)
  • The feet and in between the toes
  • The armpits
  • The groin and anal glands
  • Around the eyes

Diagnosis and management of atopic dermatitis relies on a thorough history of your dog’s symptoms and a thorough physical examination. It is essential that all potential parasitic causes (such as the common the flea) and food allergies are ruled out.
Your dog may also undergo further allergy testing and these results can be used to formulate a unique desensitising allergy vaccine.

When it comes to managing the itchy pet, there is, unfortunately, no magic pill that cures all cases. It’s all about prevention, careful management and taking action before things get out of control.
The good news is that there are drugs available that can greatly improve your dog’s comfort and we can discuss these with you.

There are even a few things you can do at home to help your pet stay itch free:
  • Be vigilant with flea prevention all year round for all pets in your family.
    Fleas are THE major cause of an itchy pet and consistent use of flea treatment is easier and cheaper than trying to get rid of the itch. Ask us for the best flea treatment available for your pet.
  • A premium balanced diet is essential to keep your pet’s skin and coat in top shape. This will provide a good barrier against potential allergens – ask us for a recommendation.
  • Always wash your dog in pet-approved shampoo and conditioner. A product containing ceramides can help rebuild the epidermal barrier and reduce allergen exposure.
  • Medication to help reduce the immune system’s response to the allergen can greatly reduce an itch, and can be used both during flare-ups and for ongoing management – chat with us to find out what’s suitable for your pet.
  • If you notice your pet is itching, licking, biting, or rubbing, you should arrange a check-up with us ASAP. The sooner we settle the itch, the less likely your pet is to cause self-trauma and secondary skin infections.
If you would like more information about skin disease and your dog we are on hand to provide you with the best help and advice!

Dental disease stinks

There’s no doubt about it when it comes to dental disease it can really stink! But don’t be tempted to simply turn your head away, as bad breath can be a sign that your furry friend is suffering from dental disease, a sneaky condition that likes to creep up on them.

As the disease progresses, plaque and tartar build up around the teeth leading to an inflammatory condition called gingivitis. Eventually, the gum separates from the tooth and small pockets of bacteria accumulate. This is very painful as nerves are exposed and tooth root abscesses can form.

Dental disease is painful, and can impact the overall health of your pet. If bacteria from dental disease are left untreated, there is a risk that it will enter the bloodstream, affecting your furry friend’s health. Small signals of pain and discomfort can be easy to overlook, but it’s vital that you stay vigilant for the sake of your four legged friend!

Signs of dental disease include:

  • Bad breath
  • Redness of the gums
  • Drooling from the mouth
  • Changes to the way your pet eats, or their preferences in their diet 
  • A loss of appetite or weight loss

Sometimes the signs are subtle and you may not notice anything at all. This is why regular check-ups with us are so important as during any routine examination we will always examine your pet’s mouth to rule out the need for further intervention.

How do we treat dental disease?

If we diagnose dental disease early enough, we can implement a treatment plan and slow the progression of this condition.
Dogs and cats with more advanced dental disease need a general anaesthetic to assess the teeth and thoroughly clean the entire mouth, including under the gum line. This helps remove the plaque and bacteria, and treats gingivitis. Radiographs may also be taken to look for hidden problems inside the tooth or beneath the gums. Teeth that are severely diseased and cannot be saved are removed.

Here are our top tips for dental care at home:

  • Make every mouthful count:
    Wet and soft food diets are notorious for allowing plaque and tartar to accumulate.We have excellent diets available that are actually designed to clean the teeth as your pet chews. We can also advise you on the best chews and treats available when it comes to dental care. Not every chew on the market is entirely safe for your pet so it’s best to ask us for advice.
  • Brushing is best:
    Brushing your pet’s teeth is considered gold standard in home care. We have toothbrushes that enable you to get into the hard to reach places. Keep in mind that it can take a few months for your pet to get used to the idea! Daily brushing is recommended (in an ideal world) however a couple of times a week is better than no brushing at all. If you are using a dental paste make sure it pet-friendly (human toothpaste is toxic to pets). We will show you how best to brush your pet’s teeth – just ask us for a demonstration.

If you are worried about your pet’s teeth you should speak to us. With correct dental care, your pet will be happier and live a healthier and longer life without dreaded doggy, or kitty, breath! 

Is your pet overweight?

When it comes to your pet, you might think that carrying a few extra kilos isn’t a big deal. Unfortunately, even slightly overweight pets are at an increased risk of developing a host of diseases such as arthritis, heart disease, respiratory disorders and diabetes.

Pets come in all shapes and sizes and there’s no ideal weight for every breed. The key is to know what to look out for so you can identify when your pet is getting a bit portly.

Here are our top tips for determining if your pet is carrying a few too many kilos:

  • Look at your pet from above – an overweight pet will have lost definition of their waist. Instead of an hourglass figure, they may resemble a barrel on legs.  
  • Have a feel of your pet’s ribs – if you can’t feel their ribs easily when you run your hands over their sides, they are hidden under a layer of fat. In some cases, you may be able to feel rolls of fat over the ribs.
  • Can you see their neck? A very obese pet may have neck fat, a pendulous tummy as well as fat deposits over the hips.

The very best way to determine whether your pet is overweight is to drop in for a weight check with us. This will allow us to score your pet’s body condition and, if necessary, start a weight loss plan.

Thankfully, getting your pet to lose weight is easier than you think.

Physical exercise is a must, and it will be crucial to monitor the amount, as well as what type of food you are feeding your pet. Get your family involved in the process too, get them measuring the correct scoops of food per feeding, and stop them sneaking scraps from the dinner table to the pampered pet!

It’s also easy to overdo the treats at home and you might not be aware just how much of an impact these treats are having on your pet’s weight. Keep these calorie translator facts in mind when you are having trouble saying ‘no’ to those adorable eyes:

For the average 5kg cat: a glass of milk is equivalent to a human eating 3 hamburgers! (not to mention the fact that cats can’t digest the lactose in cow’s milk)

For a 10kg dog: a 30g piece of cheese is equivalent to a human eating 1.5 hamburgers!

The best news is, we have diets available that will actually help your pet lose weight, including one to increase your pet’s metabolic rate. We are happy to say that many of our patients have had great success with these so you should ask us for more information.

Helping your pet lose weight is easier than you think and we will help support you and your pet through the process.